You might assume that painter Neil Davies would be familiar with every detail of the West Cornwall landscape. He has walked its fields, footpaths, and cliff paths many times over the years, making preparatory sketches for his paintings.
In 2020, though, Neil and his family acquired their first dog, a Border Beagle puppy named Obi. Having to walk a lively puppy twice a day amid the restrictions of lockdown meant they got to know their immediate locality better than ever before. They explored each and every footpath in all directions within a couple of miles of their house, taking time to notice the smaller details of the Penwith landscape.
As a result, this new collection of paintings, on show at St Ives’ New Craftsman Gallery throughout July, is an intimate study of nature on the artist’s doorstep, with a few jaunts further afield as Obi’s size and enthusiasm increased.
Neil says: “Walking at Obi’s pace, stopping, doubling back, pausing to chat to other dog owners, I have been forced to look more closely and more often. This new way of looking and noticing has resulted in a deeper understanding of and affection for my home turf, which I hope I have managed to convey in this collection of paintings.”
Also on show are ceramics by Royal College of Art graduate Matthew Chambers, who is known for his highly distinctive work. Layers of clay and colour enclose more and more layers, resulting in extraordinary sculptural forms. This new collection specifically explores the art-historical tradition of the Mandorla used in religious art, where two circles overlap to form an almond shaped ‘aura’ surrounding a holy figure.
• Neil Davies, Walking the Dog, is at the New Craftsman Gallery, 24 Fore Street, St Ives, from 2nd-30th July.